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  • Writer's pictureMike Bensi

Start with a Clean Slate with New Hires

My youngest son has entered fourth grade this year. While not a major milestone (that I'm aware of), it did seem like a big year. New teacher. New classroom. An opportunity to meet new friends. He had a clean slate to start with.

In the workplace, not all employees arrive to the workplace with a clean slate. Some carry with them the scars of bad experiences from a layoff, former bosses or toxic work environments. While a well-designed onboarding process can help, all too often we start to see lingering habits and behaviors from those negative past experiences.

While it can be easy to dismiss the person as a poor performer, there are a few strategies to try before you start over with a clean slate:

Create a safe space. Ensure that you or your workplace isn't allowing bullying and harassment. Make it clear that such behavior will not be tolerated.

Lead by example. Show your employees what a healthy and supportive work environment looks like through your own actions and behavior.

Identify the behavior - not your perception. Share what behaviors you see and observe early in the relationship.

Encourage your employee to share. Invite the team member to share their past experiences and feelings at their own pace. Let your employees know that you are willing to listen without judgment.

Provide opportunities for skill-building and professional development. This not only enhances their abilities but also boosts their self-esteem and confidence.

Assign a mentor or team member who have experienced negative experiences. This can help them build a positive relationship with a senior colleague, fostering a sense of belonging and support.

Consistently check in with the employee to gauge their progress and well-being. Let them know that you are committed to their growth and happiness within the organization.

Encourage self-care. Promote the importance of self-care and work-life balance. Encourage employees to prioritize their mental and emotional well-being.

Celebrate small wins. Recognize and celebrate their achievements, no matter how small. This boosts their confidence and motivation.

The space that leaders create may not create a clean slate, but can help an employee move forward from past negative workplace experiences. By creating a nurturing, respectful, and growth-oriented environment, you can empower your team members to heal, rebuild their confidence, and contribute their best to the organization's success. In doing so, you not only help the individual but also foster a healthier and more productive culture for everyone.

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